Very relevant comments made by Flip Saunders in a recent Q&A with Britt Robson of Minnpost. Flip points out how difficult a losing culture is to change — how “comfortable” a few wins can make a team unfamiliar with success feel.
In what would seem to be a prescient prediction — although not unfounded or unfamiliar — Saunders points to half of the Wolves feuding couple as the grit that could actually help with the change…
MP: Do you think something is amiss on this team? Chemistry is an overused word, but is there a reason why this team doesn’t seem able to consistently motivate itself?
FS: Part of it is I think when you are a team that has not had success, continued success, and maybe many times over the past seven or eight years you have relied on moral-type victories, that is tough to overcome. Because when you have a victory or two, you start feeling very comfortable. When I came here, someone from the organization came to me and said, “You’re going to love our guys. It is the greatest group of guys and we have no problems with them. They are fun to be around and they don’t argue.” And I said, “That might be a problem.” Because sometimes you need to have at least that one guy who is kind of out there who has that tough personality and brings a little of that grit.”
MP: Brewer has tried to be that a little bit this season.
FS: Oh, the closest guy to that is J.J. But he’s 5-9. But that is something I think Turiaf will bring. It is tough to do that from behind the bench when you are not playing. But that is what he will bring on the floor because he is going to say how it is, he is hard-nosed.
I said in the preseason, until we have a hard foul, we’re not there yet, mentally, as a team. Because that is basically saying, you are coming to my house at the rim and I’m not going to just let you get that easy layup. And we haven’t had that yet. And I think you either develop that internally or you have to get that externally.